Yay, we finally did it: The app is now available for iOS and Android. It's such an amazing feeling to see it in the app stores after working so hard for such a long time. Thank you very much for every tester of the beta and all the amazing feedback that we received.
Most feedback about the app is just awesome and I am very thankful for that. But there are also a few critical voices (much less than I expected) that I really appreciate as well since this is the best way to improve and recognize current issues that need more attention. I felt it might be great timing to write a little bit more about the platform itself and the team because I suspect that most of the critical feedback is based on false assumptions.
How it all began
When everything started in 2014, I (Manuel) never imagined growing such a big community around the idea to find the most beautiful photo spots around the world. Like most projects, I just started to build something to see if others would participate and have the same problem as I had back then. The idea was born at Kirby Cove, San Francisco in 2011 already and the first version of the platform went live in autumn 2014. Over 3 years passed since the initial idea and I thought over and over again about it and how to build it until I finally started to work on Locationscout for every evening and entire weekends.
A lot has changed since these days and while the platform grew, the costs for hosting and providing Locationscout did so too. The only thing that didn't change is the countless evenings and weekends - which is fine since I love what I do and I really care about the community and creating something valuable to others.
Based on the negative feedback, I recognized that quite a few people think that there is a big million dollar company behind this platform. While I am somehow very honored about that, the truth tells kind of a different story. I am a solo developer working fulltime as a freelancer for other companies to pay my bills and every evening, weekend, and holidays I worked on Locationscout for 6 years now by implementing new features, maintaining the platform, improving the content, and answering support emails. Nothing of this would be possible without the amazing support of unselfish friends like Jakob, who is going through all the content change requests almost every evening and who is responsible for the social media channels, or Robert, who always took some days off from his work to support me on meetups and exhibitions. Or Daniel, Melanie, David, Reemt & Florian who always had an open ear or opinions about any kind of issues I had. And of course one of my best friends Stefan, who always pushed me to finally release the app and who is kind of my mentor for years now. And last but not least my wonderful wife, who simply does anything to support my vision and even keeps a straight face when she has to listen to all my "nerd-stuff" and issues I have.
This is how the current first version 1.0 of the app looks like.
Why is there a Premium subscription?
Obviously, nothing of this would be possible without an amazing community like you guys and I am very thankful for everybody uploading their beautiful photos to the platform, improving the content, or simply using the platform. And yet it's impossible for me to keep it this way without taking a single day off from work for years now besides growing costs which are currently paid by my freelance work. Premium subscriptions are therefore an urgently required way to be able to build a sustainable business around Locationscout, making it possible to pay the recurring costs, earn my living, hire more talented people, and to keep providing the best possible solution to find beautiful places around the world.
I just felt that it's important to share these thoughts with the community since I always try to be as honest and open-minded as possible with you. It's therefore not about catching sympathy but about making my decisions easier to understand. It took me over 3 years and countless changes about the pricing to finally introduce Premium accounts at a fair price of only $3.66 (launch deal, available within the app until September 27th). Keep in mind, that over 50% are immediately cut by Apple/Google + VAT + server costs. And if you feel that Premium isn't valuable enough for you yet, that's honestly perfectly fine for me as well and instead, I would love to hear from you via email about features, content, or improvements you would like to see in the future.
Why is there no Credit System yet?
I heard the suggestion a few times now about rewarding active users and making Premium even cheaper or completely free. I really like this idea and it was always important for me to support the community not only by providing and improving the platform but also by giving something back in form of SEO traffic, free photo tutorials, prints in international magazines, or by connecting the photographers to potential buyers. That's why this idea is definitely not new to me and something I thought about a lot. I already have a lot of experience with reward systems like that and all of them finally resulted in people spamming a platform to simply reach a given milestone just to get the discount or free usage. While I really don't care about the money since people who are like that wouldn't pay for Premium anyway, I really care about the quality of the content and my time, that I want to invest in improving the platform instead of having to clean up these uploads. That's why I decided against a system for now, but as always I am very open-minded about suggestions that would solve this in a useful way.
Which features are Premium?
In general, basic features and all user-generated content is and will always be available for free. I paid a lot of attention to build Premium features around comfort, saving time, and things that are simply expensive to maintain. Currently, these features are only available within the app for iOS and Android but it's planned already to offer additional features for the web platform as well. No worries - there might be even more new free features as well like the recently released new Home Feed or the new Bookmark Boards in the future if the subscription model works out and simply allows me to invest more time or even hire more talented people.
Beside a lot of free known features from the website, the app offers additional Premium features like Around Me to find awesome spots nearby, making sure that you won't miss the best ones during your trip.
You can download the app for iOS in the Apple App Store and for Android via the Google Play Store. As always I really appreciate your opinion and all kind of feedback. I hope that this post gave you a lot more insight behind the platform and if there are any questions feel free to ask them here or via mail. I am always happy to hear from you and really appreciate your support. You guys are awesome!
P.S. If you want to become Premium as well, make sure to save 20% permanently (not just for the first year like any other offer on the web ;-)) until September 27th.